Defensive end Greg Hardy is going to play in an NFL game for the first time in more than 11 months.
The Dallas Cowboys intend to get Hardy reps during the team’s preseason opener at San Diego, although how many remains to be seen.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wasn’t ready to speculate when asked, but assured that Hardy would be lining up against the Chargers.
Hardy will not see more action with a pending four-game suspension to open the season, coach Jason Garrett said. Garrett compared Hardy’s situation to that of cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s last season, as Scandrick was suspended to start the season after testing positive for a substance considered to be a performance-enhancing drug at the time.
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Hardy, meanwhile, is set to serve a four-game suspension for breaking the NFL’s personal conduct policy stemming from a May 2014 domestic violence incident. He and his representatives have yet to decide whether to appeal the four-game suspension in federal court to try and get it reduced further, or possibly completely removed.
For now, though, everyone is operating under the assumption Hardy will serve the four-game suspension, which was reduced from 10 games last month by an arbitrator.
“We’ll take Greg on the same kind of course that we would take most of our veteran players,” Garrett said. “Probably similar to what we did with Orlando Scandrick last year. Give them an opportunity to progress over the course of the preseason and play more each game.
“This will be his first game playing [in almost a year], so you want to be careful about saying, ‘OK, you’re going to play 80 reps in this game because that will catch you all up.’ We’re going to progress him normally like you would after two weeks of training camp, and hopefully it’ll be a good, positive work for him.”
Hardy, 27, has been running with the first team defense most of training camp. He’s played at right defensive end, and has also seen time sliding inside to the tackle position.
Hardy, despite his troubled past, has consistently garnered praise from the coaching staff and teammates alike in how he has approached business since signing with the Cowboys. He is expected to be a key factor in boosting the Cowboys’ pass rush a year after the team compiled only 28 sacks.
“He’s meant a lot to our D-line,” defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said. “Just things we should have been working on a long time ago. We’re just more aggressive, we’re a get to the quarterback group now, and that’s all we’re focusing on. Our stats weren’t where we wanted them to be last year, and he’s here to help us get there.”